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NPA welcomes Trade and Agriculture Commission announcement

29th Jun 2020 / By Alistair Driver

The NPA has welcomed the announcement that the Government will, after all, introduce a new Trade and Agriculture Commission to scrutinise and make recommendations on future trade deals.

Liz TrussThe Government has previously appeared lukewarm towards the idea, which was first raised by NFU president Minette Batters when Michael Gove was Secretary of State at Defra.

But, as the issue of imports standards has risen up the public agenda, with more than a million people backing an NFU petition for legislation to protect UK farmers under future trade deals, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss has today said she will establish the commission, after positive discussions with the four UK farming unions.

The move also comes after around 80,000 people emailed their MP asking for the commission to be established.

Ms Truss said the commission would make recommendations for UK agricultural trade policy, higher animal welfare standards across the world and export opportunities for UK farming.

Ms Truss said: "I wholeheartedly agree that any trade deal the UK strikes must be fair and reciprocal to our farmers and must not compromise our high standards of food safety and animal welfare. I have been very clear on both these points and will continue to fight for the interests of our farming industry in any and all trade deals we negotiate."

Mrs Batters described the announcement as a ‘hugely important development’. She said: “I am very pleased that the government is taking concrete action to address the challenges of safeguarding our high food and farming standards by agreeing to set up a Trade and Agriculture Commission, something we first called for over 18 months ago.

“We look forward to working with government and other stakeholders in the days ahead on the Commission’s terms of reference, to ensure that its work is genuinely valuable. In particular, it will be vital that Parliament is able to properly consider the Commission’s recommendations and can ensure government implements them effectively.”

NPA reaction

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: “This is a very important step forward and a sign that the Government is at least recognising that there must be some external scrutiny of future trade deals to ensure they do not damage primary producers.

“It is also a reflection of the persistence and hard work of the NFU and others who have been pushing so hard for a commission.

“While the extra scrutiny is welcome, we will continue to make our voice heard loud and clear on this critical issue for the pig sector. We are with the NFU and others in insisting that future trade deals must not permit imports of food products produced to standards not permitted in the UK that would have a hugely damaging impact on domestic pig producers."